It is with deep regret and sadness that the Atlantic County Firefighters’ Association and the County of Atlantic announced the passing of retired County Fire Marshal Harold J. ‘Whitey’ Swartz. Whitey was dedicated to the Atlantic County fire service and a great friend to all.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Whitey’s beloved wife, Joy, and his family during this difficult time.
A life-long resident of Atlantic County, he was born in Pleasantville, the only son of John C. and Edith M. (Sheppard) Swartz and was educated in the Pleasantville public school system. He served in the US Army and joined the Pleasantville Volunteer Fire Department in 1958 and became a fulltime firefighter two years later. In 1959 he married his best friend and partner in everything he did, Joy Ann (Simpkins) Swartz. They had three sons, Robert, John and Harold Jr. Whitey became a legend, serving the Atlantic County community and firefighting service for 56 years. He rose to the rank of Deputy Chief in Pleasantville after 31 years, served as Atlantic County Fire Marshall for 25 more. He held many offices and positions including Atlantic County Fire Coordinator (1989-2005), N.J State Consumer Product Safety Commission Investigator and Director of the Anthony ‘Tony’ Canale Fire Training Center. Whitey was an avid photographer providing pictures to local law enforcement, legal firms as well as shooting weddings and local school graduations. When he didn’t have on a fire helmet, he had a camera around his neck. Whitey had a love of history and along with Joy, he founded the Firefighter’s Museum of Southern New Jersey — an extensive collection of both fire apparatus and memorabilia, open to the public.
He established a large collection of model trains, displayed on a 13 x 40 foot platform in the basement of his Pleasantville home to which thousands of school children came to see over the years. Whitey visited schools teaching fire prevention, talked to scouting groups at his museum and countless other acts of service to others, far too many to name.
He is survived by his wife Joy Ann, sons Robert, John (Frank) and Harold Jr. (Laura), grandchildren Dana, Kim, Christopher, Michael, Maggie, Amanda, Ryan, Matt and Will, and great-granddaughter Faith Hamilton. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
(Left): Whitey with his grandson Matt, a volunteer with the Bayview Volunteer Fire Company in Galloway Township, Atlantic County.
– Fire News photo by Dennis C. Sharpe